After I had started my decluttering journey, I came across Marie Kondo’s book The life-changing magic of tidying. It’s quite a popular book and I enjoyed reading it. Overall, I like her idea of decluttering and living with less. I am not sure whether some of her advice is really practical, although I am happy to be proven wrong. Unfortunately, I read it after I was done with most of my decluttering. I still thought it would be interesting to share it, since maybe some of you are thinking about starting a decluttering process. In my reading Marie Kondo stresses several points when it comes to decluttering.
There is a right order to decluttering
According to Marie Kondo you should not declutter by rooms, but by categories. You are supposed to start with clothes, then move onto books and documents, and then a miscellaneous category that includes your skin care and makeup, electrical equipment, kitchen appliances, and food, and lastly mementos. This order seems very intuitive to me. Even without having read the book, I proceeded in about the same order. I certainly find it easier to sort through my clothes than household items…
Take everything out!
Marie Kondo stresses to take all the items of one category out and lay it on the floor. I do see the benefit of this method. By taking everything out you realize how many items you actually own. That’s not how I proceeded and I don’t really think that this is easy to implement in my situation. I tackled all the decluttering during my son’s nap time – and if fate doesn’t work in my favor his naps only last 40 minutes.
For me the decluttering was more of an iterative process: I started one time and went back during the next nap. It’s certainly easier to miss something, but I did what I considered doable in my situation. One advantage I found, however, with iterative decluttering was that items that were in the maybe pile the first time around didn’t feel essential anymore the second time around and I found it much easier to part with them.
Does it spark joy?
Marie Kondo wants you to take every item in your hand and to ask yourself whether it sparks joy. Only when it sparks joy you should keep it. I have to admit I was a little skeptical at first about this mantra of joy, since it seemed almost esoteric. But the more I thought about it the more I understand her reasoning. Things that don’t spark joy are things we won’t miss, so we might as well get rid of them. During my decluttering I used an amalgam of criteria to decide what to keep and what to purge. Do I feel good when I wear this? Have I used it in the last 1 or 2 years? If I were to pack my things up and could only take a couple of boxes (like when we moved to the Netherlands), would I take this item with me?
Fold it upright
According to Marie Kondo the majority of our clothes should be stored folded, not on hangers. The clothing should be folded upright so they stand on edge, not stacked like in stores. For storing clothing in cupboards I understand her reasoning: if you stack things, it’s easier to forget what is on the bottom, because you don’t see it; if folded upright, you can easily see what you own. I am, however, not sure whether that will translate into my closet. Also, contrary to what she stresses, the method of folding seems kind of obscure and keeping the folding up after every laundry sounds really tedious to me…
Have one place for everything you own
Marie Kondo stresses that you should find one place where all items of one category are stored. According to her theory our homes get messy and we accumulate stuff because we lose sight of where things need to be put and because some of our items are homeless, i.e. they just lie around. I 100% believe this. This is how our apartment gets messy every time after we clean up. Our worst habit is to put things on our dining table. As soon as one item (often an invoice) gets put there, a whole horde of other things end up there (more invoices and letters, magazines, iPods, earphones, pens, tissues, … the list is endless). Moving forward I plan to implement this advice as best as possible in our new apartment.
Overall, I’m happy with how my decluttering journey went so far, even without the input of Marie Kondo’s book. I do think that it would have been nice to have read the book before starting the process, but I don’t think it is a prerequisite for any decluttering endeavors. I think with decluttering it is important to just start. With this decluttering project I may not have decluttered enough. But every subsequent decluttering will benefit from my current efforts.